NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 4 – Twenty one Somali refugees were arrested and charged in court on Monday, after police intercepted them at the Somalia border while headed from a camp in Kenya to join an Al Shabaab training base.
The arrest comes a week after security agencies discussed a detailed report on how Al Shabaab has been recruiting from refugee camps, and other towns—including Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa.
Police said the refugees arrested on Monday, who were carrying water and foodstuff, were intercepted at the Abdisugo roadblock while headed to an Al Shabaab training camp inside Somalia.
“They have been arraigned in court, they were headed to join a terror group for training,” Musa Yego, CID chief for Garissa county said.
According to police, the suspects had left Hagadera refugee camp and were headed to Kolbio for the training.
Police have stepped up security surveillance at the Kenya-Somalia boarder and at the refugee camps after it emerged that terror attacks are plotted at the camps—including the September 21 attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall.
A report discussed by security agencies last week shows that Kenya is increasingly facing terror threats from Al Shabaab militants who are actively recruiting vulnerable youths in the slums and at the refugee camps.
The security chiefs are worried because terrorists crossing into the country from the neighbouring lawless Somalia end up obtaining Kenyan identification documents which they use to disguise themselves by engaging in income-generating activities.
They then start plotting terror attacks, which take several months, citing the Wastage attack where some of the terrorists are said to have taken time to monitor their target for several months before they launched an offensive that left at least 67 people dead and more than 200 others wounded.
Four men accused of aiding the mall attackers were charged at the Milimani Law courts on Monday, and remanded for seven days after police indicated they were still carrying out an investigation on them.
None of the men—also charged for being in the country illegally—took part in the actual attack at the mall, after police indicated that all the four or five terrorists captured on CCTV shooting shoppers indiscriminately had been killed during the four-day siege that followed the September 21 attack.
“The threat of terrorism remains a major global threat largely due to its transnational nature, the ability by terrorists to cause death and injuries in large magnitudes and the fact that terrorists subscribe to uncompromising extremist ideologies and ready to die for them as they have no value for life,” the report seen by Capital FM News states in part.
The report also states that the terrorists have been operating in cells in the country, complete with command centres.
In Kenya, the report states, the current threat of terrorism has its roots in the anarchy which gripped Somalia following the collapse of the Somalia State in 1991, which eventually led to interminable clan feuds for over two decades, providing an attractive theatre for ‘Global Jihadists’, as Islamic fundamentalism grew in appeal as a panacea to the prevailing disorder.
“Most of the Kenyan foreign fighters within Al Shabaab have been recruited from the Majengo area of Nairobi and its environs, Mombasa and North Eastern, with several youth having been trained and fought alongside Al Shabaab,” the report states, concluding that “Most of them have been recruited largely due to poor socio economic reasons, which make the youth vulnerable to recruitment by criminal gangs and extremists.”
“This development has witnessed significant conversion of most of the youth into Islam and subsequent movement to Somalia where some have either been killed or are still fighting, while others have returned to Kenya to engage in terrorism as well as criminal activities,” it states.
In the report, security agencies and advisors seem to have come up with
factors contributing to the high rate of attacks in Kenya lately, or why the country is the target.
“Key factors contributing to the prevalence of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in Kenya include the continued instability in Somalia, which has continued to provide a safe haven for the terrorists,” the according to the report, which calls for more security surveillance and patrols along the porous border and in the marked slums, like Majengo.
“The Al Shabaab still control most of Central and Southern Somalia from where they still plan to radicalize, train terrorist and plan terrorist attacks,” the report states, also blaming the increased attacks or target to the military incursion in Somalia where soldiers are battling Al Shabaab militants.